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Alice Levi Duncan
GASTON LACHAISE (French/American 1882-1935)
Lachaise, French trained and educated, immigrated to the United States (1906) to pursue Isabel Nagle, his artistic muse and future wife. He joined the studio of Paul Manship to assist in various projects including the execution of the Morgan Memorial for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Manship, a more established and successful artist promoted the Frenchman both personally (vouching for him at his immigration hearing and hosting his wedding) and professionally. Lachaise accepted his introductions to patrons (such as Welles Bosworth and the Deerings of Miami) and recommendation for parallel work on major projects such as the AT & T Building and Rockefeller Center.
Even while working as Manship’s assistant (1914-21), Lachaise maintained his own studio and created an enormous body of work, including his iconic image Standing woman (Elevation). Lachaise had a more avant-garde following than Manship, as evidenced by articles in The Dial magazine and exhibitions with Bourgeois, Kraushaar and Steiglitz, all beginning in the 1920’s. His friendship with contemporary poets such as e.e. cummings, Hart Crane and Marianne Moore placed Lachaise within an intense intellectual circle. Although Lachaise was the definition of a bohemian artist and an artist who had focused vision and philosophy, he enjoyed patronage from major collectors of modern art such as Philip Goodwin, Thayer Scofield, James Sibley Watson, Lincoln Kirstein, Edmund Warburg and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. At the time of his death in 1935, the Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective exhibition.